THE battle to save Wellesbourne Allotments from housing development has intensified after allotment holders gave a big thumbs down to Coventry Diocese’s proposal to build 50 new homes on the community site.
Wellesbourne Allotment Association plot holders voted overwhelmingly earlier this month to reject a proposal by the Diocese which would potentially see part of the historic site being developed.
The Diocese owns the land where allotments have existed for over 180 years but once a proposal for new housing emerged two years ago a stubborn stand-off between both sides has since taken place involving key twists over community use, historical precedent and most of all – money.
The vote was made at the first recorded extraordinary general meeting held by the association in its history. There was an 82 per cent turn out with 98 per cent of votes cast rejecting the proposal.
Chair Ian Hope said: “We asked plot holders to consider written proposals from the Diocese which would open the way for part of the land to be developed in return for land adjoining the current allotments adjacent to the flood plain with an offer not seek to further develop on allotment land for 25 to 50 years – the equivalent of just one or two generations. These proposals were made in a letter to the association and no formal planning application has yet been made.
“Plotholders expressed a number of wide ranging views and concerns and overwhelmingly agreed to reject the proposal and to continue to fight to remain on land where local people have been growing their own food for more than 180 years.
“We are informing the Glebe Committee at Coventry Diocese of the results of the vote. We have offered to buy the land at agricultural rates which would help secure the allotments for the community in perpetuity. The Diocese has rejected that concept but in light of our overwhelming support we would very much hope they reconsider and instead help us to maintain what is recognised universally as a much valued community asset.”
Mr Hope told the Herald last week the vote was a “resounding rejection” of the Diocese proposal of an area which is “very much the jewel in the crown of Wellesbourne; a place where young people learn and a place of pastoral care for those with particular needs and it includes a dementia plot.”
A spokesperson for Coventry Diocese said: “The Glebe Committee thanks the Wellesbourne Allotment Association for considering its offer of an alternative site which has improved facilities and security of tenure. The Association’s decision will be presented to the next meeting of the committee where members will give further consideration to a way forward.”